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The Most High-Profile Drug Lawsuits of the 21st Century

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “the war on drugs” thrown around in the news. But did you know that it’s an incredibly old one? The first anti-drug laws were passed during the early 20th century in response to the popularity of cocaine and opium.

However, now that the legalization of cannabis is more common than ever before, it’s time for a new era of drug-related lawsuits. Here are some high-profile cases of recent times:

Tylenol

Tylenol is a brand-name painkiller that has been available since the early 20th century. In recent years, however, it has come under fire from multiple lawsuits claiming that the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy increases the risk of autism and ADHD in children.

In October 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed against Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, by parents who claimed their children were born with autism after being exposed to high levels of acetaminophen while in utero.

The parents allege that this exposure caused them neurological damage and other health problems later in life. And they’re seeking compensation for those costs now that their kids are adults.

The Tylenol lawsuit is ongoing as of this writing. If you’d like more information on the case, we encourage you to contact an attorney today.

Vioxx

Vioxx was a COX-2 inhibitor prescribed for pain and arthritis. It was withdrawn from the market in 2004 after being linked to heart attacks and strokes, which caused more than 27,000 deaths.

The drug’s manufacturer Merck & Co., along with other pharmaceutical companies involved in cases against Vioxx, paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to people who claimed their health had been affected by taking this medication.

Avandia

Avandia is a drug used to treat diabetes. It was found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes and was taken off the market in 2010. The manufacturer paid $3 billion in fines for false marketing claims about the drug’s safety.

Zoloft

Zoloft is an antidepressant that was originally approved in 1991. It’s sold by Pfizer and prescribed for the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Zoloft has a long history of controversy. It was pulled from the market in 2005 after being linked to suicidal thoughts and birth defects, then reinstated two years later when an FDA advisory panel voted 11-2 against removing it from sale altogether.

The lawsuit against Pfizer alleged that patients taking Zoloft experienced severe withdrawal symptoms when they tried to stop taking it, including insomnia, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

It argued that these effects were not adequately disclosed on product labels or in advertisements for Zoloft as well as other antidepressants like Prozac or Paxil.

Efexor

Effexor is a drug used to treat depression and anxiety. It was developed by the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck, which hoped that Efexor would be their next blockbuster drug after the success of their antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro.

The company spent $1 billion developing Effexor, but it eventually pulled it off the market after it was found to increase suicide risk in some patients by 500%.

Efexor was one of several drugs that were later discovered to have serious side effects when they were first approved for use by regulators such as the FDA or the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

NuvaRing

NuvaRing is a birth control device that was approved by the FDA in 2001. It was pulled from the market in 2013 after it was found to cause blood clots and death. The manufacturer was sued for $100 million.

Risperdal

Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug that’s used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It’s also used to treat anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In 2003, Johnson & Johnson was accused of illegally marketing Risperdal to children and adolescents at higher risk for side effects such as weight gain and diabetes.

Forbes reported Johnson & Johnson paying out $2.2 billion to settle criminal and civil probes into the marketing of Risperdal and its two other drugs. In 2015, the Court ordered the company to pay a $136 million fine for improper marketing of the drug and concealing its risks.

Topamax

Topamax is a drug used to treat epilepsy and migraines but has also been linked to birth defects. According to Daily Mail, an urgent review was launched into topiramate, the brand name for Topamax, after Scandinavian scientists conducted a study looking at rates of intellectual disability and autism in children whose mothers took topiramate while pregnant.

The drug has also been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts. And even though these side effects are rare, they’re still serious enough that you should talk with your doctor if you experience them while taking Topamax or any other medication.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many lawsuits that have been filed against drug companies in the 21st century. While some cases have gone on to become landmark decisions, others have been dismissed or settled out of court.

It’s important to note that these cases only represent a small fraction of those being litigated today. There are thousands more being fought across America every year.

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